NFL Playoff Picture Week 10 updates: How the Jaguars could end up with playoff bye
This post will be updated throughout Sunday and Monday after each slate of games — bookmark it and come back after each group of games to find out what changes happened in the NFL playoff picture.
The NFL season is more than halfway over and while we don’t know everything about anything — or anything about everything — we do know that at least one bad team is going to make the playoffs. It probably won’t happen in the NFC, where there are about six or eight pretty good football teams.
In the AFC? The Bills held onto their playoff spot, the second wild card, despite losing 47-10 to the Saints at home. You could chuckle and say it’s irrelevant because someone else will steal the spot, but that’s no guarantee by any stretch. The teams chasing them … aren’t good. There are 10 teams in the NFC that would be better than the sixth-best team in the AFC.
More importantly, how about the fact that the Jacksonville Jaguars could end up with a top-two seed in the AFC and a playoff bye? It’s not remotely unrealistic after the Jaguars beat the Chargers on Sunday to move to 6-3.
One of the Patriots and Steelers — who play each other — will likely find their way into the top seed in the AFC. But Jacksonville is a threat as well. Their schedule is cake going forward. Next week they get the Browns (0-9) in Cleveland, followed by the Cardinals (3-6) in Arizona. Then they come home for three games, hosting the Colts (3-7), Seahawks (6-3) and Texans (3-6). They close with road games against the 49ers(1-8) and the Titans (6-3).
They could lose all those games because the NFL is weird. But they’re not going to and they’re headed to the playoffs. They will be potentially favored in every single one of those games. They will definitely be favored at Cleveland, at Arizona, at San Francisco and for the home Colts and Texans games. They can beat the Seahawks and the Titans. Winning out would be pretty stunning but it’s not remotely impossible.
Meanwhile, 5-2 just feels realistic. If they pull that off (with losses to the Seahawks and Titans), the Jaguars still have a 49 percent chance of securing a bye. If they only lose to the Titans, the number jumps to about 70 percent. Only lose to the Seahawks and the number skyrockets to 98 percent.
If the Steelers slip up at all, Jacksonville has a very good chance to slide into one of the top spots in the AFC for the postseason. At the very least it seems very likely that the Jaguars could end up hosting a playoff game.
Here’s how the rest of the NFL playoff picture looks, as well as a snapshot of some games that could impact what it looks like after Week 10 and beyond.
AFC: Who’s in
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2)
The Steelers once again decided to make things difficult on themselves on the road against an inferior opponent, but this time actually managed to come away with a win, beating the Colts 20-17 on a late field goal. A loss would have been a major problem for homefield advantage purposes, but the Steelers ultimately just have to be eying the head-to-head matchup against New England,
2. New England Patriots (7-2)
The Pats handily dispatched the Broncos on Sunday night — remember when their defense was going to be a major issue? It still might have flaws, but this is shaping up to be another dangerous Patriots team come playoff season. Tom Brady is playing at an MVP level. They have the Raiders, Steelers, Bills and Dolphins left on the schedule. Another 14-win season could be in the cards.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)
The bye helped to solidify the Chiefs hold on the AFC West but didn’t do much to help them in the way of moving up the ranks for the AFC as a whole. The Chiefs are going to need help from other teams — they have the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Patriots but not against the Steelers.
4. Tennessee Titans (6-3)
It wasn’t pretty, but the Titans were able to score late and beat the Bengals. There are legitimate questions about the defensive competency of this team, but offensively they can explode when everything is clicking. The odds favor the Jaguars to win the division based on the schedule, but the Titans are in great shape for a playoff run.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3)
The Jags needed some luck to hold serve at home, but they’re now basically in the clear for a playoff berth and a possible division title. They have the Colts, 49ers, Browns and Texans on the rest of their schedule. Anything less than 10 wins would be a massive disappointment at this point.
6. Buffalo Bills (5-4)
This is the most wide open spot on both sides of the playoff bracket — the Bills are sort of freefalling at this point (they just got pasted at home by the Saints to the tune of 47-10) but they’re firmly in command of a playoff spot and the other options out there are not that appealing. The Raiders, who have stumbled this year but remain in the hunt, have to be licking their chops. The Dolphins somehow aren’t done either.
7. Miami Dolphins (4-4) – Couldn’t have played worse for much of this season and somehow just right there. A win in Charlotte Monday would put them squarely back in the hunt.
8. Baltimore Ravens (4-5): Largely uninspiring and still right here.
9. Oakland Raiders (4-5): Huge Mexico City matchup coming next week against New England.
10. New York Jets (4-6): Great season, but a Week 11 bye and a brutal schedule coming. You can’t lose to Tampa and hope to survive.
11. Houston Texans (3-6): The second Deshaun Watson went down so did their season.
12. Cincinnati Bengals (3-6): Could we see the Bengals blow everything up this offseason?
13. Los Angeles Chargers (3-6): Had a real shot to steal a win over the Jags and get back into the playoff hunt. But they went full Chargers to screw it up.
14. Denver Broncos (3-6): The defense is slipping and the offense has no juice.
15. Indianapolis Colts (3-7): They’re just out here injuring quarterbacks.
16. Cleveland Browns (0-9): The Browns haven’t won on a Sunday since December 13, 2015. Incredible.
NFC: Who’s in
1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
2. MInnesota Vikings (7-2)
Case Keenum is coming on strong and Adam Thielan is an absolute monster, one of three wide receivers with multiple 150-yard games. It’s possible to see this team slip, but the Vikings might just be good.
3. New Orleans Saints (7-2)
Drew Brees didn’t throw a single passing touchdown and the Saints still scored 47 points and thrashed another playoff team on the road. They are going to be a problem for people.
4. Los Angeles Rams (7-2)
The Rams have beaten the living tar out of some teams so far over the past few weeks, outscoring their opponents 117-24 over the past three weeks. They are legitimate and dangerous.
5. Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
Nice little mini-bye for Seattle following the win over Arizona, but they have a seriously tough stretch of games coming up, starting with the Falcons at home on Sunday. They do get the 49ers and Cardinals over the final stretch of games.
6. Carolina Panthers (6-3)
The Panthers get the Dolphins on Monday night, followed by their late and very convenient bye week.
7. Atlanta Falcons (5-4): Massive and dominant win over the Cowboys at home. The Adrian Clayborn show was fun to watch.
8. Detroit Lions (5-4): Took care of business against the Browns after a little scare.
11. Washington Redskins (4-5): The momentum couldn’t carry over after that wild win in Seattle.
12. Arizona Cardinals (4-5): Bad year to be in the NFC and have everyone get hurt.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6): Big home win to keep the heat off everyone … for now.
15. New York Giants (1-8): It only feels like a matter of time until Ben McAdoo is canned.
16. San Francisco 49ers (1-9): They celebrated their first win like they won the Super Bowl.
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